top of page
PFC First Time User Experience 
Designing to increase early retention
IMG_6271 9.png

Paradise Fortune Casino was experiencing issues with early user retention. The game had entered soft launch and we had a hard deadline for world wide launch. We needed to act quickly to solve for poor KPI numbers.


I leveraged findings from our Consumer Insights team to hone in on our FTUE and a core gameplay feature called Star Surge to increase our retention by over 100%, play session length by 20%, and doubling spins per session. 

Tools and methods



Competitive analysis

Miro Logo.png


User flows

Project goals 
Paradise Fortune casino wasn't hitting any of its metrics upon soft launch. My team needed to focus on raising KPI on our day 1 - 7 player retention, length of player sessions, and amount of spins per session. 

Consumer Insights findings

Before soft launch our consumer insights team had run a longitudinal study with users that captured some pain points I was hoping to act upon. The main complaint we were experiencing from players was that they did not understand Star Surge. This was a considerable problem because it was a core feature that drove the gameplay loop. 

I was the only UX designer on the project however, and due to a deluge of other features that needed to be completed I did not have time to act upon this information. This problem would prove to be quite significant once we hit soft launch and numbers started rolling in.  

Product KPIs

Paradise Fortune casino wasn't hitting any of its metrics upon soft launch. This isn't too uncommon. What was an issue is that we were missing them by considerable - double digit - margins.  We were primarily concerned with:
Flower Pot

D1-D7 Retention

Alarm Clock

Play session length

Image by DEAR

Spins per session

What now? 

Based on consumer insights and previous player tests, it was evident that there was a lack of comprehension surrounding a significant core game loop feature, Star Surge. Users believed they understood the feature, but they frequently described it incorrectly, mistaking it for a star-rewarding element instead of a coin-awarding mechanism. Furthermore, they struggled to grasp its relevance to the island builder portion of the game.

My hypothesis was that user engagement was hindered by this confusion. I aimed to enhance comprehension and increase engagement by exploring low-lift changes to the feature's screens.

Starting with a heuristic analysis, I sought to develop suitable recommendations.
Star surge button slots play.png
Star Surge selection screen.png
Star surge activate screen.png
star surge help screen.png
Star surge active slot play.png
Star surge active on lobby.png


After performing this audit on Star Surge I put together some recommendations and presented them to the team and stakeholders. 
Star surge recs full flow.png
1. I wanted us to give users visual feedback on whether Star Surge was active. Along with an inactive menu that directs them on how to activate it.
Star surge visual feedback button.jpg
2. I also thought we should give the users a tool tip when they tapped on the Star Surge currency in the top HUD. This would provide additional information about how to activate the feature. 
Star HUD ToolTip.jpg
3. I suggested reorganizing the information hierarchy in the Star Surge menu to keep relevant information in proximity to one another and to provide steps for the user as well as visual feedback. 
StarSurge Main Screen_all Mlti.jpg
StarSurge Main Screen_tap on disabld.jpg
Starsurge Main Screen_disabled Mlti.jpg
4. I created an info screen to give the user information about how to activate Star Surge and what the feature does. 
Info Screen.jpg
5. I updated the confirmation screen to be consistent with other screens in the game.
StarSurge Activate Scrreen.jpg
6. I updated the active slot HUD to show bet level without the affordances to change it, along with showing the multiplier active. 
Starsurge in slot.jpg
7. I Added visual feedback on lobby for when a Star Surge is active in a slot 
Lobby Starsurge Active.jpg

What else? 

In addition to Star Surge I thought it would be worth taking a look at our first time user experience and tutorial. We were getting a lot of drop off from app launch to first spin in slot.

There was just too much friction. We needed to make the FTUE more comprehensive while simultaneously shortening it so users could get to playing the game faster. 

I began tackling this by mapping out the FTUE we had.
FTUE Heuristic notes use this.jpg

Then we pivoted

Around this time, the game economy issues surfaced. The UX design and UX research team conducted a substantial live sample study involving approximately 100 users over 3 days.

During these tests and interviews, it became evident that users not only struggled to understand Star Surge, but they also found the slot pay-outs unsatisfactory.
Paradise fortune casino had a unique design challenge. By design, slot payouts were smaller than other slot games because Star Surge was awarding extra. Accommodating this feature required a lower RTP (return to player), leading to a decline in user engagement.

As a response, our head of games proposed a complete overhaul of Star Surge. The revised feature would activate as a random bonus, allowing us to balance the game's economy similar to other slots games.

A lot of change to FTUE

I worked in collaboration with the research and product team to create a new FTUE flow that took users from an on rails experience, to something more open and shorter. 

A big issues I found with the original FTUE is that the slots lobby, Star Surge, and the Island builder sections all overlapped. The players were essentially forced to learn about all three at the same time, cycling between them. It made for a very disjointed experience that was also long and left players still confused about how Star Surge and the Island builder worked. 

We were also experiencing low engagement with some retention features such as our Daily Bonus and Missions system. Some of the major design changes I implemented  in response to these problems are as follows: 

Progress Bar

Integrate a tutorial progress bar that showed users where they were in the tutorial and gave them a goal to complete. 


Features linked to level

 Many other mobile slots used this method of onboarding users. It allows players to experience new features with minimal interruption to gameplay. While also tying the features to a sense of progression. 

Image by Riho Kroll

Random Star Surge

Star Surge was going to be a random bonus. This made it easy to understand and helped alleviate our economy issues.

FTUE Updates

1. I suggested starting the user out in the lobby. Our host character awarded them coins and encouraged them to spin in one of the most popular slots the company had. 
Early part of FTUE - progress bar.png
2. In slot play the user would see the tutorial progress bar on the left side. We also added a tool tip for the energy icon on the top HUD to give some context. This way users would know that it wont be usable until a certain level.
Toolt tip level up.png
3. I also mapped out when certain event drops could happen. I provided tool tips when relevant as well. For instance, the tool tip on the beginning screen is encouraging users to bet higher to level up faster. This occurs right after they unlock a new bet level. 
event drop.png
4. I updated Star Surge to be unlocked at a level up. This was great because we could tie in the explanation for the feature into the level up sequence that users were already familiar with, making it less intrusive. 
Star Surge unlock.png
5. I introduced the meta island in the same way as Star Surge. We had received a lot of feedback from players that they either loved it or we indifferent to it. So I wanted to design the FTUE to allow them to go check it out if they wanted but not to force them into it if they wanted to continue spinning in slots. 
Island unlock.png
There were many, many other changes to things like the missions progress bar in the hud, performing tasks on the island, and formatting for profile oriented slot machines. I'm happy to go into detail about all of those design decisions at request. 

New FTUE flow overview 

Final FTUE flow.jpg


The team acted quickly to implement these design changes. Our KPI's increased significantly as a result: 
Flower Pot

D1-D7 Retention lifted by over 100%

Alarm Clock

Play session length lifted by at least 20% across all days.

Image by DEAR

Spins per session more than doubled

I felt very confident in the direction we were going. We had made significant gains across the board on our numbers. We were still missing our KPIs but, far less than we were and we also needed to rebalance the economy in the game. 

From a UX perspective it would be great to perform another round of player tests with this new build. I would like to focus on feature comprehension around Star Surge again. I would also want to know how users feel about wins (RTP), and get sentiment around our events and missions systems. 

We focused so much on Star Surge in earlier testing that I think there are many more insights to be gained about other features that can help us to tweak them and drive up engagement even further. 

What next?

bottom of page